Album Review | Dum Dum Girls release nostalgic, infectious album
Published: Monday, February 3, 2014
Updated: Monday, February 3, 2014 08:02
Full of droning melodies, lackadaisical bass lines and shiny synth, Dum Dum Girls’ third full-length studio release “Too True” is both fiercely nostalgic and outrageously lovable. It’s hard to turn this album off, and for good reason: The tracks will undoubtedly remind listeners of the music their parents loved, but at the same time, they incorporate elements of more current music into the mix. Basically, for modern-day hipsters — with their Canon AE-1 film camera, record player (because the sound is just ... better) and headband reminiscent of Woodstock — this album is perfection. However, you don’t have to be a hipster to appreciate the musical craftsmanship that went into the creation of “Too True.”
Dum Dum Girls — who received several accolades for their 2012 EP “End of Daze” — have made choices regarding their sonic identity that set them apart from the rest of the indie-pop category. The vintage feel that permeates Dum Dum Girls’ entire discography may be a product of the member’s origins in Los Angeles — a city consumed by the former glories of the golden age of Hollywood and haunted by the free-love movement of the ’60s: Dum Dum Girls were born in the cradle of wistfulness. Lead singer Dee Dee Penny seems to channel everyone from Stevie Nicks and Pat Benetar to Billy Idol and Iggy Pop on “Too True.” Penny and the girls sound completely overcome by the past — and in this latest attempt, they pay homage to their roots, while also reinventing the genre in which they’re working.
It’s not that Dum Dum Girls is a cover band of sorts, stealing styles and refashioning them as relevant and hip. What Dum Dum Girls has done is far beyond imitation; the band has taken long-forgotten sounds and opened up the world of music for Millennials. In a music scene dominated by pop from artists like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, Dum Dum Girls sounds bizarre and strange to many ears. Indeed, in their quest to rejuvenate some idealistic musical past, Dum Dum Girls is not alone.
Bands like HAIM and Best Coast — both proudly from California — have made serious waves in today’s music scene with their nostalgic tunes that transcend tastes. These musicians, channeling the post-disco pre-punk era of music, owe their existence to bands like Fleetwood Mac and acts like Patti Smith. However, what allows groups like Dum Dum Girls to flourish — in what could be considered a hostile time for American rock-pop — is the musical innovation and attention to detail that surrounds their journey to the past. Dum Dum Girls manages to borrow and extract the best parts of this era and combines modern licks, riffs and techniques into the mix. Although they may owe their existence to the past, Dum Dum Girls is indubitably a band of the present and future.
The album is peppered with notable tracks and exceptional lyrics. On “Are You Okay?” Penny croons to a infectious and romantic melody: “Sometimes my heart is pure / sometimes I know it’s not / sometimes it disappears / returns a lot.” One of the best songs on the album is “Lost Boy and Girls Club.” The song sounds menacing and seductive, drawing the listener straight into the past with attention-catching synth, strong and guiding bass and hypnotic percussion. It is easy to sit and listen to the track over and over again, enjoying a different aspect of it each and every time.
Ultimately, Dum Dum Girls have forged a niche for themselves in the current music scene, one that will be fruitful as long as people crave nostalgia. “Too True” is easy to love and difficult to replicate. The past is coming back in spectacular fashion; this newest album makes it clear that you better get on the bandwagon before you’re left in the dust.